Some of the Women of Yavapai Exceptional Industries Share What Makes it ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’

By Hilary Dartt

Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) is truly an exceptional organization. Founded in 1974, this nonprofit agency provides job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services to local adults with disabilities.

The “Developmental Employment” program at YEI! includes the award-winning “Community Contribution Corps” and has been continually accredited at the highest level of service by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities since 1978.

More than certifications and programs, the faces of YEI! are what make it so special.

“This is a pretty happy crew of people,” said Charity Bishop, an Employment Coordinator at YEI’s Ruger Airpark Industries location. “And that’s uncommon these days.”

“YEI! is the ultimate safe space,” said Brad Newman, the organization’s Executive Director. “It’s safe to be fun, to have fun, to be yourself. And of course, nobody dwells on your disability or your challenges. The whole focus is on your abilities and aspirations.”

Although YEI! focuses on normalization, Brad said, helping provide YEI! guys and gals with a “normal life, normal schedule, normal role for adults in the community and the economy,” the YEI! approach is unique—and that’s what brings out the best in every member of the YEI! community.

It’s all about fun.

“It is a culture. There’s a language. There are costumes,” Brad said.

With employees who have a deep devotion to the YEI! crew, and a culture that emphasizes fun, it’s no wonder people come out of their shells and genuinely enjoy being there.

“It’s all the right things,” Brad said. “More of the world should be like us.”

Recently, Prescott Woman magazines sat down with six YEI! women to talk about why they love YEI!

Laurie Boaz, Member of the YEI! Board of Directors Length of time at YEI: since September 2019

YEI! Favorites: “I just love that this is the happiest place on earth. These friends are the hardest-working and happiest people anywhere.”

She called YEI! “an amazing support system—but one that is not without competition, and very enthusiastic competition.” She said, “It just catches you up in it.”

She also loves that YEI! guys and gals have the opportunity to become productive members of society.

Charity Bishop, Employment Coordinator at Ruger Airpark Industries, and Staff and Community Instructor 

Length of time at YEI: 7 years.

YEI! Favorites: “I love being around the people we support. I get a lot of value and satisfaction going to work every day and interacting with the people. These are honest, earnest relationships.”

Charity said she also loves that YEI! is inclusive to everyone who needs support—regardless of whether they have government funding. “People need community regardless of circumstances,” she said.

Lisha Mueller, Front Desk Receptionist and Production Technician

Length of time at YEI: 3 years.

YEI! Favorites: “I never knew I had the job skill of answering a phone, and YEI! proved to me that I do. I’m happy to talk to people.”

Lisha also collates as part of her work at YEI! and she said, “I’m just glad to be there.”

Anna Pisano, Employment Coordinator at Washington Avenue Industries

Length of time at YEI: 17 years.

YEI! Favorites: “I just love it all. I enjoy coming to work. Sometimes you get up feeling bad, but seeing the smiles and joy of these guys makes it all go away.”

It’s fun to see the YEI! guys and gals feel proud of what they’re doing, she said.

Kara Warrick, Production Technician

Length of time at YEI: 28 years.

YEI! Favorites: “Just being with everybody—my YEI family… and my boyfriend, Justin. I like being with him, too.”

In addition to working at YEI! Kara works at Wendy’s, and said, “I’ve been lucky to have two jobs in my life. My co-workers and bosses are good for me, and I like meeting new people.”

Cynthia White, Member of the YEI! Board of Directors

Length of time at YEI: since March 2019

YEI! Favorites: “It’s amazing to see how happy everyone is here, and how hard they work.” She loves the organization’s expanded activity schedule, and the fact that all the YEI! guys and gals get to participate.

“When you visit YEI,” she said, “you can’t help being happy and impressed by the facilities.”

For more information, visit or call 928.445.0991.